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Wherefore they cast themselves on God's fovereign pleasure, and say with Job, Though he pay us, we will put tur trust in him, we will not let him go. In ourselves we are loft, that is unquestionable ; how the Lord will deal with us we know not, we see not our signs and tokens any more, evidences of God's grace in us, or of his love and favour unto us, are all out of sight. To a present special interest io Christ we are Itrangers; and wely every momeot at the door of eternity; what course fhall we take, what way fhall we proceed? If we abide at a distance from God, we shall alluredly perilh : Who ever hardened himself against him and prospered ? Nor is there the least relief to be had but from and by him : For who can forgive fins but God? We will then bring our guilty fouls into his presence, and attend the pleasure of his grace, what he speaks concerning us, we will willingly submit Unio. And this fometimes proves an anchor to a toffed soul, which, though it gives not reft and peace, yet it saves it from the rock of despair. Here it abides until light do more and more break forth up

on it

3dly, Faith dealing about forgiveness, doth comnionly

eye, in a peculiar manner, its relation to the mediation and blood of Christ. So the apoftle directs,'i John ii. 2. If any man sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our fins. If any one hath firned, and is in depths and entanglements about it, what course shall he tak, how shall be proceed to obtain deliverance? why, be must unto God for pardon : But what shall he rely us on to encourage him in his so doing? Saith the apostle, Consider by faith the atonement and propitiation made for fin by the blood of Christ ; and that he is still purfuing the work of love, to the suing out of pardon for us, and rest thy soul thereon. This, I say, most commonly is that which faith, in the first place, immediately fixes on.

4thly, Faith eyes actual pardon or condonation. So God proposeth it as a niotive to further believing, Isa.



xliv. 22. I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgresfions, and as a cloud thy fons; return unto me, for I have redeemed thee. Actual pardon of sin is proposed to faith, as an encouragement unto a full returning unto God in all things, 2 Sam. xxiii

. 5. And the like may be said of all the other particulars which we have infifted

There is not any of them, but will yield peculiar relief unto a soul dealing with God about forgiveoess, as having fome one special concernment or other of forgiveness inwrapped in them. Only, as I said, they do it not exclusively, but are the special doors, whereby believing enters into the whole. And these things must be spoken unto afterwards.

Let us now take along with us, the end for which all these confiderations have been insisted on. It is to manifest, that a real discovery of gospel-forgiveness, is a matter of greater consequence and importance than at first proposal, it may be, it appeared upto fome to be. Who is not in hopes, in expectation of pardon? who thinks not that they who know well enough, at least what it is, if they might but obtain it? But men may have general thoughts of impunity, and yet be far enough from any saving acquaintance with gospel-mercy.

Forgiveness discovered, or revealed only to faith..-

Reasons thereof.

For a close of this discourse, I shall only add what is included in that proposition which is the foundation of the whole ; namely, “ That this discovery of forgive. “ nefs is, and can be made to faith alone." The nature of it is such, as that nothing else can discover it, or receive it. No reasonings, no enquiries of the heart of man can reach unto it. That guess or glimpse whiclı the heathens had of old of somewhat so called, and which false-worshippers have at present, is not the forgiveness we inlift upon, but a mere imagination of their own hearts. This the apostle informs us, Rom. i. 17. The righte

oujness ousness of God, is (in the gospel) revealed from faith to faith. Nothing but faith haih any thing to do with it. It is that righteousness of God whereot he speaks, that consists in the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Christ, declared in the gospel. And this is revealed from the faith of God in the promise, to the faith of the believer, to him that mixes the promise with faith. And again more fully, i Cor. ii. 9. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. The ways whereby we come to the knowledge of any thing, are by the seeing of the eye, or the hearing of the ear, or the reasonings and meditations of the heart : but now, none of these will reach to the matter in hand; by none of these ways can we come to an acquaintance with the things of the gospel that are prepared for us in Christ

. How then thall we obtain the knowledge of them ? that he declares, ver. 1o. God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit. Now, it is faith only that receives the revelations of the Spirit; nothing else hath to do with them.

To give evidence hereunto, we may consider that this great mystery,

First, Is too deep.

Secondly, It is too great, for ought else to discover : And,

Thirdly, That nothing else but faith is suited to the making of this discovery.

First, It is too deep and mysterious to be fathomed and reached by any thing else. Reason's line is too short to fathom the depths of the Father's love, of the blood of the Son,and the promises of the gospel built thereon, wherein forgiveness dwells. Men cannot, by their rational confiderations, launch out into these deeps, nor draw water, by them, from these wells of salvation. Reason stands by amazed, and cries, How can these things be? It can but gather cockle-shells, like him of old, at the Thore of this ocean; a few criticisms upon the outward letter; and so bring an evil report upon the land, as did



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the spies. All it can do, is but to hinder faith from venturing into it ; crying, Spare thyfelf, this attempt is vain, these things are impossible. It is among the things that faith puts off, and lays aside, when it engageth the foul into this great work. This then, that it may come to a discovery of forgiveness, causeth the soul to deny itself, and all its own reasonings, and to give up itself to an infinite fulness of goodness and truth. Though it cannot go into the bottom of these depths, yet it enters into them, and finds relt in them. Nothing but faith is suited to rest, to satjare, and content itself, in mysterious, bottomless, unsearchable depths. Being a soul-emptying, a reason-denying grace, the more it meets withal, beyond its fearch and reach, the more satisfaction it finds. This is that which I looked for, faith faith, even for that which is infinite and unsearchable : When I know that there is abundantly more beyond me, that I do not comprehend, than what I have attained unto; for I know that nothing else will do good to the soul. Now, this is that which really puzzles and overwhelms reason, rendering it useless. What it cannot compass, it will neglect or despite. It is either amazed and confounded, and dazled like weak eyes at too great a light, or fortifying of itself by in bred pride and cbftinacy; it concludes, that this preaching of the cross, of forgiveness from the love of God, by the blood of Christ, is plain folly, a thing not for a wise man to take notice of, or to trouble himself about : So it appeared to the wise Greeks of old, i Cor. i. 24. Hence, when a soul is brought under the power of a real conviction of lin, so as that it would desirously be freed from the galling entanglements of it, it is then the hardest thing in the

world to persuade such a soul of this forgiveness. Any thing appears more rational unto it, any Telf-righteousness in this world, any purgatory hereafter.

The greatest part of the world of convinced persons have forsaken forgiveness on this account; maffes, pen. ances, merits, have appeared more eligible. Yea, men who have no other defire but to be forgiven, do



chuse to clofe with any thing rather than forgiveness. If men do escape thefe rocks, and resolve 'that nothing but pardon will relieve them, yet it is impossible for them to receive it in the truth and power of it, if not enabled by faith thereunto. I speak not of men that take it up by hearsay, as a common report, but of those souls who find themselves really concerned to look after it; when they know it is their fole concernment, all their hope and relief; when they know that they must perish everlastingly without it ; and when it is declared unto them in the words of truth and soberness, yet they cannot receive it : What is the reason of it? What staves off these hungry creatures from their proper food? Why, they have nothing to lead them into the mysterious depths of eternal love, of the blood of Christ, and promises of the gospel': How may we see poor diseafed souls standing every day at the side of this pool, and yet not once venture themselves into it all their days?

Secondly, It is too great for any thing else to discover. Forgiveness is a thing chosen' out of God from all eternity, to exalt and magnify the glory of his grace, and it will be made appear to all the world at the day of judgment, to have been a great thing. When the soul comes, in any measure, to be made sensible of it, it finds it so great, lo excellent and astonishable, that it finks under the thoughts of it. It hath dimensions, a length, breadth, depth, and height, that no line of the rational soul can take or measure. There is exceeding greatness in it, Eph. i. 19. That this is a great work which we have prescribed, Eph. jii. 19. Even to know the love of Christ that passeth knowledge. Here, I suppose, reason will confess itself at a stand, and an issue ; to know that which pafferh knowledge, is none of its work. It cannot be known, saith reason, and so ends the matter. But this is faith's proper work,even to know that which passeth knowledge. To know that, in its power, virtue,sweetness, and efficacy,which cannot be thoroughly known in its nature and excellency; to have, by believing, all the ends of a full comprehension of that P 2


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